An exciting new Higher Education Institute has just opened in Sydney. It is Nepali owned and committed to offering students a new and better education experience. It is fully registered and accredited by the Australian Government. It is called Sydney Met.
The founders have themselves been international students, and know the pitfalls and frustrations that students can face. Ms Anjana Singh Shrestha, Director of Sydney Met explains, ‘Too many of our friends ended up working an unskilled job on low pay. They never got to pursue the career they studied for.’ Every international student has friends or family facing this same problem.
Why are graduates job prospects so low? The reasons are complex, but some of the main ones are identified by Sydney Met’s PEO, Professor Robin Kramar: “A lack of student support; courses that are too theoretical and not in touch with industry needs; a western style of teaching and learning that overseas students find it difficult to connect with.”
If students are not getting the education and career prospects they dreamed of, how is Sydney Met different? Firstly, its focus on innovation and creativity. Chair of the Sydney Met Governing Council, Mr Jonathan Howes explains: “Overseas students come wanting to make a new life for themselves. They don’t want to get stuck as simply a unit in Australia’s low-paying labour market. They want to create something new, open up wide opportunities for themselves and their families. Whether they are planning to return home or remain here long-term, students want to see change in their lives and communities. That’s where our focus on innovation comes in.”
Sydney Met’s first degree offering is targeted at precisely this need. A Bachelor of Business with a focus on Entrepreneurship, the Course is designed to prepare students for exciting future opportunities. “We want our graduates to be capable of more than just fitting into someone else’s structure: we want to see them equipped to create their own future,” says the Chair of Sydney Met’s Academic Board, Emeritus Professor David Wilmoth. “Our Course is designed to give students the confidence and skills to try new things, to identify and take hold of opportunities in the world of business. Where other Business courses might focus on technical skills, at Sydney Met we are also committed to producing graduates who can take initiative and lead.”
How to help students get more out of their studies? This is a big challenge for the overseas student. “The Australian higher education system has always been geared towards students from Australian schools,” says Mr Howes. “It’s not always a good fit for students coming from an Asian school system.” So how will Sydney Met bridge the divide? “It’s all about student support,” says PEO Professor Kramar. “From the day students enrol we take a personal interest in each one, and help them in their transition to a Western education system. They are not left to sink or swim on their own, like in the large universities. We have dedicated student support staff available every day to help students with their needs. This is a journey you don’t want to take on your own, and so Sydney Met walks with you.”
What about cultural differences? These can often make it hard for overseas students to flourish in their studies. “It calls for a different teaching style,” explains Sydney Met’s Dean, Dr Jagannath Adhikari. “You have to get to know how students think and what is their best learning style. At Sydney Met we employ a range of lecturers from different cultures. We challenge them to engage with their students and learn about their home cultures. We want our classrooms to be inclusive places where everyone feels at home.”
So how is Sydney Met going to offer more than just another theoretical course? If other colleges struggle to be ‘industry relevant’, how will Sydney Met do better? We asked Chairman Mr Jonathan Howes. “Our students don’t just sit in classrooms and talk. They do practicums. We place each student in workplaces to gain firsthand experience and practical skills. We call it Work Integrated Learning. It’s a key part of their studies here at Sydney Met. Students get a chance to apply what they are learning at College, out in the workplace, in a supervised and supported environment.” Is that a normal part of Business courses? “No, not many colleges offer this, we’re pretty proud of our Course here.”
It looks like Sydney Met is raising the bar for education. With all this extra support and advantages, is the course priced at a higher point than others? PEO Professor Kramar says, “Our fees are very competitive. We are a low to mid-priced College, accessible to the average overseas student on a tight budget. We also offer student scholarship based on need and merit.
We look forward to seeing if the Sydney Met approach can catch on and improve an industry plagued by poor outcomes in the past.